The school summer fair checklist

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Welcome to your Summer Fair checklist, packed with practical advice on what to do in the lead-up to the big event!

The work starts way before the event, however. Get your parents together in the spring term so your PTA is ready to rise to the occasion. The arts and crafts mum, the handy dad, the baker extraordinaire mum, the organised spreadsheet dad, the front of house mum, the sponsorship dad, the happy-to-help-on-the-day mum. You’ll need them all when it comes to the summer fair.

Spring Term to do list 

  • Set the date – make sure it doesn’t clash with a nearby school fair or large local event. You’ll need to liaise with your school office over the date too. Then, make sure you send out a ‘save-the-date’ message.
  • Gather your volunteers – organise coffee mornings and socials to get to know your school parent community.
  • Consider switching up the format and having a theme to create some extra interest for this year’s fair. Talk to parents about their ideas to garner buy-in.

Top tip: Send a save-the-date event invite on Classlist. You can update the event information and send out RSVP reminders nearer the time. Would it help to ticket the event online too?

Start of summer term to do list

  • Shout out for raffle prizes if you are planning to get these donated by companies.
  • Start calling round potential sponsors and food suppliers.
  • Hold a PTA meeting and set up your summer fair committee (don’t forget to extend the offer out to the wider parent community).

Top tip: Use your PTA community group on Classlist to start off discussions about the summer fair. Then, set up a community group for each team organising a different part of the fair – to avoid group chat overload.

  • Ask for specific help. Key roles will include – photographer, float queen, raffle ticket folder-upper, invite designer and head buyer.
  • Stall helpers – using kids to run stalls can be your secret weapon in terms of finding helpers and will also make sure families come along to the event! Speak to the school now about a year group running the stalls.

Six weeks before the event

  • Start publicising the event with gusto. You’ll need your ‘go-to’ designer mum now! Go all out with estate agent billboards, posters at the school, posting on all your communication channels and speaking to the school office to make sure the summer fair is a standing item in the school newsletter. Shout about how amazing the event will be. Now’s not the time to be coy or for English modesty, you need people at your event otherwise all your hard work will be in vain.
  • Raffles can be a big earner. If you are asking parents to donate prizes – get your call out now.
  • Food is up there too for bringing in the cash. Get your supplier booked. Will they offer you a share of the takings or can you provide the food with the support of your parents? Whatever you do – check you are meeting health and safety requirements.
  • Get your arts-and-crafts mums creating and your deal-finding mum buying.
  • Appoint a games master – it’s fun to have traditional games such as Welly Wanging, Tug of War, as well as the stalls, to get people taking part on the day. Lower school v upper school?
  • Get legal: check your lottery license is up-to-date if you are running a raffle, that you’ve done your risk assessments (you’ll need one for the whole event and individual stalls) and that you have applied for a Temporary Events Notice if you are planning to sell some Pimms (it takes 21 days+ to process). If you are having live music you may need a music license too.
  • Sort out the practicalities. What toilets will be available to use? Are any special parking arrangements needed out-of-school hours? Do you have a first aider? (If it is going to be a large event you might want to book the St John’s Ambulance and you will need to notify the local ambulance service). Where will you keep takings safe on the day?
  • Check your insurance – you’ll need public liability insurance and must check any outside suppliers have this too.

The week before

  • Make sure you order plenty of water. Check the weather to see if it’s going to be hot. If so – double your order. You don’t want people fading at the event and can always store it in your PTA cupboard until the next event.
  • Create a running order for the event. This is a list of what needs to happen, when and by who. You’ll also need a floor plan of where everything will go, and a list of mobile numbers for your core team so you can communicate on the day.

Top tip: If you are using Classlist, the PTA will already have everyone’s contact details on the Classlist app.

  • Make sure you’ve got your floats sorted!
  • Firm up your volunteer support – post up a schedule so people know when and where they are needed. It will also save lots of ‘Do you still need me?’ questions.
  • Send out reminders to parents about the event!

The night before

  • Make sure everyone in your core PTA crew has the running order for the day. This way the show will go on even if something happens to you!
  • Post a ‘Let's do it!’ message to your PTA on Classlist.
  • Pack a box with all the scissors, brown tape, sellotape, blue tack, pens, A4 paper (incase of impromptu signs!) and bin bags you can lay your hands on. These are event professional essentials!
  • Lay out your outfit for tomorrow. The summer fair is not the day to have a wardrobe crisis and like it or not you will be on show.

On the day

  • Even with meticulous planning something will go awry. The best thing you can do is stay calm and delegate as many tasks as possible to others so you are free to deal with any hiccups on the day.
  • Look after your helpers. Walk round the stalls to check the are happy. Answer any queries – a crib sheet of instructions on each stall is a great help. Offer them refreshments.
  • Don’t forget to take those photos.
  • At the end – bribe any stragglers with the left over cake if they help carry in a chair or table before they go! We don’t normally advocate it but THIS the time to deploy your eyelash flutter!

Afterwards

  • Share the photos – show anyone who didn’t make it what they missed out on, and let parents know how much the fair raised.
  • Find your inner ‘Yay’. Thank your PTA – after all that hard work it’s important to celebrate what you’ve achieved – before you move onto the next thing.
  • Finally – track down your go-to finance parent to get some match funding for your summer fair. It can really boost your profits.

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